Sox Prospects: Catcher


Thanks to the trade for Victor Martinez at the trade deadline last season and the resigning of Jason Varitek, the Sox have a fairly strong catching core in the major leagues, but developing young catchers is crucial to an organization’s continued success. Last season, the Sox had Dusty Brown and George Kottaras waiting in the wings at Pawtucket and used Kottaras on several occasions as a backup in the major’s. In mid-November, the Sox released Kottaras and added an underrated catcher, Mark Wagner, to their 40-man active roster.

Mark Wagner is a 25-year old who was drafted in 2005 out of the University of California-Irvine. He spent the first 3 years of his professional career in single A ball, but last season moved up to double A with the Portland Sea Dogs. Wagner began his double A career on a strong note, hitting .340 in his first 75 AB’s, but struggled in the month of August, as he watched his average drop to .219. In just 94 games, Wagner hit 10 HRs and drove in 48 RBIs, showing that he has the ability to go yard and be a difference maker.

The most exciting part of Wagner’s game is his defensive ability. He finished first among eligible catchers in the Eastern League last season with a .997 fielding percentage and finished second in success rate (42%) in throwing out baserunners attempting to steal. Both of these categories have been lacking in the majors for the Sox over the last few years, with Varitek having a terrible percentage throwing out runners and Martinez struggling defensively behind the plate.

Don’t expect to see Wagner playing at Fenway for another few years, but with some more development offensively, he could be an impact player in 2 or 3 years for the Sox.